Maintenance therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent disease in the gum tissues and bone supporting your teeth. Ongoing dental care of your mouth at home and regular maintenance visits with your dentist are vital for periodontal health care.
The main cause of gum disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Toxins (or poisons) produced by the bacteria in plaque constantly attack your gums and teeth. If the plaque is not removed, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar.
Daily oral hygiene, including brushing teeth and flossing, will keep the formation of calculus to a minimum, but it won’t completely prevent it. No matter how careful you are in cleaning your teeth and gums, bacterial plaque can cause a recurrence of gum disease from 2 to 4 months after your last professional dental cleaning. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, your dentist and hygienist must check for potential hidden problems and remove the hardened plaque at a time interval appropriate for you.
The answer depends upon the patient and the severity of the disease prior to treatment. The responsibility for periodontal maintenance will be worked out between you, your dentist and your hygienist. Depending on the advancement of the disease, your dentist may recommend a follow up with a periodontist (periodontal specialist).
Your maintenance visit may include:
Discussing any changes in your health history and taking and recording a current blood pressure/pulse
Taking necessary x-rays to evaluate the teeth and the bone supporting the teeth
Examining your mouth tissues for abnormal changes
Measuring the depth of pockets around the teeth
Assessing your oral hygiene habits and providing helpful tips or instruction
Cleaning your teeth to remove bacterial plaque and calculus
Polishing your teeth to remove stains
Applying topical fluoride, if applicable
Examining your teeth for tooth decay and other dental problems
Checking the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Applying or prescribing medications to reduce tooth sensitivity or other problems
How Often Should I Have Maintenance Visits?
This decision is based upon your periodontal condition. The interval between maintenance visits varies between patients from every few weeks to every 6 months. Everyone’s situation is different. The frequency of maintenance visits will be influenced by:
Different types of periodontal diseases
Different types of periodontal treatment
Different patient response to treatment
Different rates of plaque growth
Personal commitment to good oral care at home